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Managing relationships and a collaborative approach in building and construction

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In an organisation, a plan, strategy and processes are set in place. However, it’s important that managing relationships and collaboration aren’t overlooked, particularly when it comes to major projects.

There are two components in any organisation:

1. The Rational (or the organisational system): This includes strategy, structure, processes, policies and procedures – the part that is planned and controlled, and vital in developing an organisation.

2. The Non-Rational: This includes relationships, culture, beliefs and trust. This part can sometimes be neglected because the main focus is on the rational. These elements of an organisation are created and can come in second to the rational part in terms of priority.

With both components, collaboration is essential. Trending in pretty much every industry, collaborative approaches have been adopted for good reason.

Collaboration is about identifying shared goals, and can include anything from data and processes to skills and resources.

Working collaboratively helps to break down barriers between the different players that a part of a project. In construction, where key players might include architects, designers, engineers, contractors and a procurement team, a disconnected project team can lead to issues such as changes to design concepts being lost and miscommunications between different players.

A main challenge in the construction industry is the use of email rather than a centralised system. Two parties might make amendments to a design drawing, but it might not be communicated to the rest.

Establishing collaborative practices in building and construction projects is important as they generally require diverse disciplines to come together.

Building relationships, working collaboratively and having an integrated process allows an entire project team to work effectively towards a common goal where information doesn’t get missed.

Some key areas to working collaboratively include:

  • Clear lines of communication and authority.
  • Established protocols and dissemination of information.
  • Team members’ roles and responsibilities appointed from the commencement of the project, including project manager, lead designer, contractor, etc.
  • Regular team meetings.
  • Set procedures in place.
  • One central repository that contains all project details and updates, which all team members can access readily